Pizza and the Baby Shower

Posted by Legal Alien on Apr 06, 2009
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January 7th of this year Liz and I had a baby. We're so happy and blessed, our baby is so cool. One of our friends, yep a couple who frequented Cafe Corazon on the mall, is expecting a baby soon as well. Liz and I wanted to host the baby shower for them. We had a co-ed gathering on this occasion.

I guess I love to cook,,,,or something, and soon the plans came together. As much as it was impromtu it was also with a kind of idea in mind. We wanted people to all be active in making their food, to bring some food and for the interaction of all who attended to be fun.

To address the food issue of a fun activity that all could take part in we thought of pizza. Everyone could bring one or two toppings they like and at the table we could form a big array of topping options. Hmmm, we need pizza dough. We did kick around ready made, briefly. This is not how Leo like to do, though. A search for recipes ensued. I found this, Best Pizza Dough Ever Recipe, with this recipe;

4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 (.44 ounce) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

I am not comfortable with weighing ounces so I converted the 20.25 ounces of bread flour to 574 grams. This is much more accurate since in weighing flour you account for moisture and humidity that is in it. This also avoids common mistakes made in "packing" the cups of flour throwing off your recipes. I also used bread machine instant yeast. That kind of yeast is potent and does not need that second rise. I believe that part to be arguable, however. If you have any input on that let me know. The dough came out very sticky for me and required more flour. I'm not sure mine came out as good as it could have but it was still awesome. It's all about the delayed fermentation overnight in the fridge. This recipe will take practice.

I prepped the dough the night before and put it in the fridge over night. The next day I removed it 2 hours before we were to cook. We had basil, peperoni, cheese of all kinds-mozarella-feta-jack-cheddar, artichokes, sun dried tomatoe, cubbed ham, pineapple, olives and some sauce. I'd prep a pizza dough and slap it on a cookie sheet and guests would take it from there. This was fun and everyone went crazy huddling in our tiny little kitchen talking, drinking tea, smelling the crazy good aroma eminating from the oven. Every pizza came out of the oven with several people standing around eagerly waiting to taste their creation. The pizzas were a bit bigger than one person could eat, a pizza smorgie followed. We all enjoyed trying the pizzas every one else made.

For desert Liz made a three layer chocolate cake from scratch. That in itself was simply amazing. For the topping, and in between layers, we went over the top. We made this recipe and between the combination of the two, the cake was so rich you could only finish one slice. Remember to take care and use a double boiler to keep from having your eggs break in the mix. This Mousse is the bomb!

Ingredients
6 (4-ounce) bars bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup extra-strong black coffee
4 large eggs, at room temperature separated
1 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup
2 cups heavy cream
Whipped cream, for toping
Shaved chocolate, for garnish
Berries, for garnish
Directions
Break chocolate into smaller pieces and melt on top of a double boiler.
When close to being melted add coffee and stir together.
In a separate bowl, beat 3 egg yolks and 1 cup of sugar, mixing well. Add
mixture to melted chocolate and cook over heat. Stir well until sugar is
dissolved. Remove from heat. Cool.
Using a handheld electric mixer, beat 4 egg whites until they form soft
peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture.
Beat heavy cream with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until soft peaks begin to
form. Fold into chocolate mixture.
Serve in a beautiful crystal dish or glass. Garnish with dollops of fresh
whipped cream, berries and shaved chocolate.

Alongside the cake we enjoyed hand churned ice cream, Butter Pecan and Coffee (yes, Cafe Corazon in the Mix). Yep, old school ice cream. I'll try and get the suppliers of the icecream to post their recipe for it. Alongside the cake, we're talking better than you can get in any restaraunt anywhere. This was one incredible desert.

Just before winter I had purchased a Lemon Grass plant. After the last frost I cut it back and had all these trimmings to work with. We were in need of a drink for the gathering and as a shot from the hip I threw it out there, "I could make a Lemon Grass iced tea". Day of the Shower I got a large pot and set water to boil. The trimmings had been drying for a few weeks and still amounted a big handfull. With a few of the leaves I tied a knot around the whole bunch of lemon grass and dropped the bunch in the boiling water. I let that boil for 5-10 minutes and turned off the heat. Put the lid on and let it steap. I filled a pitcher with ice and ladled in the tea. Many guests who attended the shower made comments on the tea. It did not need sweetner and it came out sooooooo tastey. This was a big hit.

Outside we enjoyed cigars while there was random birthing talk and a game indoors. It was a great shower and we were glad everyone had a great time. Pizza is a great way to get everyone involved and satiated.

Looking back we both have formed the opinion, when we get a house we NEED a big kitchen. These kinds of times are truly memorable.